Mental and physical health of out of school children in a South African township
- Cite this article as:
- Liang, H., Flisher, A. & Chalton, D. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2002) 11: 257. doi:10.1007/s00787-002-0294-y
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Background: Poor school attendance has negative consequences for the individual and society. We investigated physical and mental health correlates of school attendance amongst black children in Cape Town, South Africa. Methods: We undertook a cross-sectional community study of children, aged 6–16 years, living in Khayelitsha township. Multistage sampling produced a sample of 499 children. They, and/or their parents, were interviewed using a Xhosa translation of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version 2.3 (DISC-2.3). Prevalence of mental and physical health problems of school attenders were compared with those of non-attenders. Results: 23.6 % of children were not attending school. Young children from unserviced areas were at particular risk. Male school attenders suffered higher levels of chronic illness than non-attenders. No differences in the prevalences of psychiatric disorders were found. Conclusions: There is no significant excess of physical or mental health problems in out of school children. Poverty plays an important role in failure to attend school.